Alabama appeals court strikes down anti-sodomy law

[JURIST] The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals [official website] on Friday struck down [opinion] a portion of a state law [text] banning consensual oral and anal sex, aimed at criminalizing homosexual conduct, as unconstitutional. The appeal was brought by a Dallas County, Alabama, man who was charged with engaging in consensual sodomy with another man and ultimately sentenced to 12 months in jail for "sexual misconduct." The Alabama statute prohibiting such conduct states that "consent is no defense" to a prosecution under this law and the appeals court revealed that the commentary to the statute shows that the law was specifically enacted "to make all homosexual conduct criminal." The defense largely relied on a 2003 landmark decision in Lawrence v. Texas [opinion] where the US Supreme Court found a Texas law banning "deviate sexual intercourse" to be unconstitutional; that it "further[ed] no legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual."

Alabama is one of several southern US states that have had their sodomy laws recently adjudicated. In March Virginia passed [JURIST report] a bill removing the state's ban on oral and anal sex, reducing "crimes against nature" only to bestiality and incest and continuing to prohibit sodomy in sex crimes against children. The bill came one year after a three-judge panel for the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit overturned [JURIST report] Virginia's anti-sodomy law on the grounds it was unconstitutional. In October 2013 the Supreme Court of Georgia ruled [JURIST report] that its state statute prohibiting the solicitation of sodomy is constitutional, opining that the law is not violative of one's due process or privacy rights.

 

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